Mental Health Nurses

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Mental health nurses are responsible for planning and providing support and medical and nursing care to people who have a range of mental health issues.

Mental health nurses work as part of a team of professional and medical staff that includes doctors, social workers, therapists and psychiatrists. They work in a range of settings, including hospitals and people's homes.

They support people with issues ranging from anxiety and depression to personality and eating disorders or addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Mental health nurses may specialise in working with a particular group, for example young people or offenders.

Typical duties of the job include:

  • assessing and planning nursing care requirements

  • organising workloads

  • visiting patients at home

  • building relationships with, reassuring, listening and talking to patients

  • combating stigma and helping patients and their families deal with it

  • administering medication

  • agreeing and reviewing care plans and monitoring progress

  • giving advice and arranging support for patients, relatives and carers

  • liaising with doctors, social workers and other professionals

  • assessing treatment success at case conferences and meetings

  • writing and updating patient records

  • encouraging patients to take part in therapeutic activities such as art and role play

Shift work or on-call rotas can sometimes be part of the job.


Key skills for mental health nurses


  • Good health and fitness

  • The ability to empathise with people

  • Good understanding of the theories of mental health and illness

  • Excellent teamwork skills

  • Verbal and written communication skills

  • Resilience

  • Stamina


Typical employers of mental health nurses


  • The NHS

  • General, psychiatric and secure hospitals

  • Residential and nursing homes

  • Community and rehabilitation units

  • Special units within prisons

A mental health nurse working in a hospital could be based in a psychiatric intensive care unit, psychiatric ward, outpatients unit or specialist unit focused on a particular issue, such as eating disorders.



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Who employs Mental Health Nurse?

(Numbers only)